What a month. That's the only way I can describe it. I have a friend who says to me; 'Who needs Eastenders or Corrie, your life is like a soap opera in itself. What's happened since I last saw you?' And she's right too. You name it, it's happened to me or around me somewhere along the line!
My brother spent nearly a month in Critical Care in North Staffordshire University Hospital. I cannot put into words how impressed I am with that place. The hospital is clean. It looks clean. It smells clean. It is clean. People are visibly cleaning. The staff? Wonderful. Across the board. From Reception to Doctors. We were never an imposition. If they had to do something to my brother while we were there, and we were in the way, we'd apologise, to be told 'Don't apologise, it's your visiting time.' If anything was being done, or had been done in our absence, it was explained to us. Whether we'd asked to know or not.
He is now awake. He had to have a tracheotomy to help him to breathe, but that has now been removed, so he can speak again of a sort. He has done a month in his 'halo'. He is also now back in our local hospital. The less said about that, the better. I feel terrible saying that, but those of you who are local to me will know what I mean by this comment. I wish he was still in Stoke, despite my parents being away from their home, despite the hassle in our being able to visit. He seemed to be properly cared for there, and now, just shoved (and I mean literally shoved) onto a normal ward. There's already been one horror story within hours, so when I go to visit in future I'm going armed with my camera. If I witness anything like was reported to me yesterday, I'll be documenting it. At the end of the day, it's no good saying 'Oh it's free healthcare, you should be grateful.' The standard of that care should be excellent across the board, in every hospital in the UK. It shouldn't deviate from Trust to Trust. And that won't change unless people start opening their mouths and complaining if there's a valid complaint to be made. So, we'll see how this one pans out. The important thing is, he's on the mend. Still a long way to go yet, but if his recovery continues at this pace hopefully he'll be home in time for Christmas.
Which leads me to the new panic. Christmas. Ordinarily, I love the Autumn. From the minute the children go back to school, and the nights start drawing in, that nip in the air. Our local town has a Fair every year, then it's Hallowe'en, then Bonfire night. Then you know, Christmas will soon be here. It's like a mental countdown. Well, this year, we missed the Fair, my friend had the children Hallowe'en while we were in Stoke, and Bonfire night we were visiting too. So, my Christmas radar is well and truly off target. Christmas is in - get this - 46 days. FORTY SIX days. That's 45 shopping days. Usually I've bought everything by now. And wrapped it. This year? I have the stuff I picked up in the January sales. That's it. My Christmas savings are... gone. Due to the cost of travelling back and forth to the hospital. It's going to be a barren one this year. I don't mind that, Mr G doesn't, and I'm sure my family and friends will understand this year if all they receive is a token bottle of wine or box of chocolates. But children, especially those of a certain age, don't get that. Because their presents aren't my problem, are they? They're taken care of by a certain magical dude, at no cost to me. I'm trying not to stress too much about that. Failing miserably. But trying all the same.